A short comment on moral relativism.

Herodotus records that when Darius was king of Persia he summoned the Greeks present in his court and enquired of them what it would take for them to eat the bodies of their fathers. The Greeks replied that not for all the money in the world would they perform such a deed. Later, in the presence of the Greeks, he summoned the Callatian tribe of Indians whose custom was to consume the bodies of their dead parents and enquired of them what it would take for them to cremate the bodies instead. The Callatians, visibly shaken by such a profane proposition, forbade the king to mention such a terrible prospect again.

Herodotus commenting on this anecdote noted that each society has it’s own particular customs and mores. What seems bizarre or repulsive to one may seem perfectly normal to another. Who is in a position to judge which is superior?

Admittedly I’m not a moral relativist myself but nonetheless it makes you wonder on what basis those who demand the global eradication of Shariah law do so? Surely, from their perspective, it is the right of each society to choose its own set of values, ethics, customs and laws? If not then upon what basis do they assert that their own are superior to others? Do they believe they have the right to impose them upon the world? Has anyone even defined them to begin with e.g. death penalty? Food for thought…

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. I think what you are missing here, despite the fact that you use blogs and Twitter, is that we are moving to a world society. So of course people reject a restrictive Sharia Law that isn’t representative of the way people are now. And they don’t need a superior set of values to reject it, they just need the freedom to make up their own minds as to how they want to live their life. A freedom constrained by Sharia

  2. Ajit Bains says:

    Clearly you are educated enough to know that there are secular models of morality which claim objectivity such as the one outlined by Sam Harris in his book The Moral Landscape. As for those of us who view morality is a branch of aesthetics, we can certainly label a moral code as offensive or undesirable just as we can a bad odour (which is also technically subjective).

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